Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Meet Debut Fantasy Author: Anna Steffl, with *Giveaway*

Author, Anna Steffl
 It is my pleasure to introduce you to a very talented and wonderful new author: Anna Steffl. She is sharp, talented, and gracious. I had the opportunity to read her first book before it it hit the shelves and it had me riveted from the beginning. 

You write fantasy—what drew you to this genre?
 The geek genetic mutation, probably. It manifested early; I used to take school notes in an alphabet I invented.  Ha! (Although I admit a part of me is like really? That would be cool!)

Seriously, here are a few propensities that seem requisite for writing speculative fiction:

  1. Being not completely rooted to this time a place. Some parts of our being are expressed better by fragments of another period or cultures’ clothes, homes, and ethics—real or imaginary. I spent hours milling over the illustrated history of fashion books at the library, then would go home and make dresses for my dolls. One year for Halloween I went as Cornelius from Planet of the Apes. Yup, we fantasy folk like our costumes. I’m bummed that I’m a tad too old to wear the Lolita fashions. I can identify with this--I once went as King Henry VIII for Halloween. (Granted I "borrowed" the costume from my dad...). I loved worlds not my own, so this makes sense to me. 
  2. Being a control freak. I want to create a world where I’m the boss. Why this is so is a question for a psychologist. I think we need to create a check-sheet....already I nod.
  3.  Bristling at rules. Why not write historical fiction if I enjoy other times and places? Then I would have to follow a bunch of rules and do loads of research about things I’m not necessarily interested in. Oh, I just broke a rule by putting a preposition at the end of a sentence. I could go on a long rant why that rule is B.S. Back on topic—to be fair, fantasy has its share of rules that you break at your own peril, especially the one about not breaking the rules of the world you create. But since the control freak made up the rules for her own specific purposes, there’s not much temptation there, though.YES!!! I like to make it all up, make my own rules; and bend them to my will. *Cackles evilly* Fantasy was my first love, so this really appeals to me. 
What books have inspired you (Name at least five—I’m evil like this). 

  It’s Like this Cat by Emily Cheney Neville. Won the Newbery Medal in 1964. About a lonely boy and the stray tom he adopts.  I currently have four adopted felines: Pauline, Cricket, Utz and Willie. Oh, I love cats. I so miss mine...

 The Tripods, a YA science fiction series by John Christopher. Fabulous world building without being heavy-handed. I remember this book--this has stayed with me since I read it. Fabulous!

 A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. A bright light outside the shadow of Tolkien.I loved this author and I agree with you.

War and Peace. Tolstoy is the master of characterization. No male writes women better. *cough* I'd like to say I've read it. Does watching part of a movie count? I did touch the jacket cover once..No? Rats.

 My Antonia. Want to learn how to use setting as a character? Read Willa Cather’s masterpiece. I do believe I will put that on my TBR pile.

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen has an exquisite practice of coloring the text around dialog to make it fit the character. She has the best dialogue I think.
So now, tell us about your book!


The Obvious Champion
Charismatic Prince Chane Lerouge possesses the one remaining sword the ancestors used to end the Reckoning. 

The Unknown Warrior
Captain Degarius, with a blade whispered to be blessed,  unrelentingly pursues a rumored lake monster.

The Dutiful Judge
Arvana, the sole Solacian capable of seeing the Blue Eye’s revelations, reluctantly leaves her cloistered refuge to seek a champion to wield the relic against the resurrected draeden. Will the mission earn her the elusive solace she seeks, or spiral her heart and the world into a second Reckoning if she chooses the wrong man?  
This is an amazing story--what you think you know, you don't. What is may not be--and every single time I was left breathless at the end of chapter--wondering what next? A wonderful tale!

Now, I read Seeking Solace (get jealous all of you—because like I said at the end of the blurb it is fabulous)  and I found the world building fascinating—just a hint of North America…would you call this Fantasy Dystopian? Or pure fantasy? I ask because there were hints at things referencing places we all know. 

            Good question. I would call it dystopian low fantasy. And what is low fantasy?  Since I’m a Wikipedia junkie...

            “Low fantasy stories are set either in the real world or a fictional but rational world, and are contrasted with high fantasy stories which take place in a completely fictional fantasy world setting with its own set of rules and physical laws.”

            “The effect of the fantastic infringing on real life in low fantasy fiction is usually either humorous or horrific.[1] The horrific aspect of low fantasy comes from the supernatural onslaught against reason which disrupts the ontological security of the world order.”

            So, now I’m going to look up what ontological security means. 
I read this all and blinked. When I read "Low fantasy" my instinct is to say--wait; no, it's not. But the explanation made sense. Then of course, I *also* had to go look up--Ontological Security. Wow. 

 What inspired you to create this story?

 Ontological security. 
*shakes head* I had to ask didn't I?
  Lets talk writing habits…This fascinates me in all writers—

Habit? A habit is something you do regularly. I’m more of a binge writer. It is entirely unhealthy, and I don’t recommend it.  Hm. I think we all have moments like this. I need more binging though--(ok, I see what you mean...)

  •   How do you write—panster, plotter, mixed: Mixed. Everything is mixed. I’ve never even constructed a scene in one swoop from start to finish. Usually I write the dialog first then fill around it, layering in setting, movement and internal dialog.  Then, everything gets revised to make sure I have a reason for including it, and that it serves multiple functions. The question is always, “How can I make this mean more?” But sometimes a banana is just a banana. And sometimes the intended swan dive is a big, burning belly flop.  How awesome about being able to write the dialogue and then fit it in. (I'm the opposite--which means I write something and I have to back and make sure people are talking. Not thinking really, really hard). And, those belly flops hurt.
  •  Do you write when you can;  or prefer early morning or late at night?: Mid-morning is best. By then the coffee has bathed the brain cells in caffeine goodness.  Since I can do my non-writing job from home—I handle the books/taxes for the Engineer’s business—I have the pleasure of writing at 10am. Yes. I am jealous you can do this, jealous enough that I'm also very impressed! That is my perfect time as well. Very cool.
  •    Do you have Critique partners/Beta readers?: Yes. Someone has to tell you when you have goo between your teeth. Always a good thing. Goo can be very disconcerting....
  All right, let’s talk some fun things---name five favorite movies.

Breaking the Waves. Lars Von Trier being only moderately weird. The name of one of the actors shows up in my books. Of course; I had to Google this too...

Master and Commander.  I love the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin novels. Plus, I get Russell Crowe in an 1805 Royal Navy uniform.  Win-win.  I’ve often pictured Crowe circa Gladiator as Chane Lerouge, one of the central characters in the Solace series. It works, it totally does. I need to watch this movie again

Clerks II. The best LOTR versus Star Wars smack down. Ever. Ha! I am putting it on my list.

Secretary. I <3 James Spader in this sweet BSDM romance. Yes, it is sweet. Yep, this also added to my to be watched list. I never heard of it until now.

Iron Giant. An animated version of Ted Hughes story about making the choice of who you want to be. I cry each time I watch this, so I don’t watch it often.  I've never seen it--and I like how you describe it.

 What is your favorite drink (recipes encouraged!)
1.5 ounces V.S. cognac

3/4 ounce orange-flavored liqueur  (I like Cointreau)

1/2 ounce lemon juice

Combine with ice in a shaker and strain. 

A tidbit from the excellent recipe book, 3 Ingredient Cocktails by J.K. O’Hanlon (my sister):                 

    “Although there are conflicting stories about who invented the Sidecar, where and when, it remains a classic and may be the most famous Prohibition-era cocktail. It ancestor is a Brandy Crusta from the late 1800s and its progeny is the Margarita—all you do is change the cognac to tequila and lemon juice to lime!”

I'm thinking I need to try making this one day....

Thank you so very much for stopping by Anna, it was a true pleasure. I hope you stop by again (well, when book two comes out, I am sure to talk you into coming back here!)

There is a Giveaway! Two e-books will be awarded to two randomly picked commentators (I literally put your name in hat--I'm very archaic). Just put your email address in the comments *please* such as :  name at ymail dot com.  I will announce the winners on this post on Saturday February 8th. 
 Good luck!  ***Kim and Pamela win the books; congratulations!***

Author Bio:With her ever-patient family, the impatient Anna Steffl lives in Athens, Georgia, home of the New World gods of football and alternative music. She has held a string of wildly unrelated jobs, from frying chicken to one that required applying for a Department of Defense security clearance.  

Links to buy her book;


  1. I didn't think I could love either of you more. I was mistaken.

  2. Apparently, my new name is Unknown. I am chagrined. ~Sally

    1. Ah Sally-- you are awesome! :) And I would love for you to be on this blog when your book comes out! *hopeful look* :)

  3. You'll be wanting to be unknown once your book comes out---Anna

    1. Anna--
      I'm still gonna get you back on this blog....*plotting*

  4. 1. Ontological security. Yes Anna - me too.
    2. Binge writing. Again, I get it.
    3. Low Fantasy vs. High Fantasy: I did not even fathom there was such a thing. How does it vary from magical realism?
    4. The Secretary, The Iron Giant -- are we somehow separated by birth? I never did feel connected to my family, but you and Mary are like my sisters from other misters.
    5. Bristling at rules, writing 'mixed', My Antonia, Sidecar cocktails (ask Leslie Tentler) ... can I move next door to you?

    One more question: can we cast Orlando Bloom as one of the warriors in the movie version?

    1. Pamela--so glad you stopped by!
      I'm *still* wrapping my mind around ontological security.
      Now I know Anna will probably answer this--but my opinion of Magical Realism--those things that just might happen? maybe? (This coming from me--who totally likes to do huge epic things of non-reality *grin*)
      We all were separated at birth and brought together by Writing!
      And I think we should live near each other--and then watch the casting of the movie--Orlando Bloom, maybe Gerard Butler...just thinking out loud.... :)

    2. Mason, let's all move into a condo on the RN Riviera! Bloom and Butler. Uh-huh. We can have movie nights and watch all the good stuff...with drinks in hand.

      A stab at magical realism. Okay, that is where the world is real, but there are some magical elements to it that the narrator takes for granted, so there is really no need to explain them. In low fantasy, the world may or may not be real, but the magical elements are an intrusion on the world, most often causing fear. High fantasy is set in alternate realities, mostly, where the fantastic is part of the world. Too, I think magical realism in more on the literary shelf :-)

    3. I like your idea best Anna...

  5. I never heard the term binge writing...i think that defines what I do too. Congrats Anna!

    1. Hi Kim--so glad you stopped by! I also like the term "Binge writer..." :)